EUGENE - With only one throw remaining on a dank, musty Monday at Hayward Field, Sam Crouser was staring down disappointment on the javelin runway.
The redshirt freshman at the University of Oregon by way of Gresham High stood in seventh place in the javelin finals with a best of 248 feet, below his personal record of 251-8 and further below his expectations.
Then Crouser unfurled a final-round bomb, landing at 265-1, to secure second place at the U.S. Olympic trials.
"I was really glad to be able to come through on that last throw," he said.
What made the difference?
Some quick advice from his father Dean Crouser, who holds University of Oregon records in the shot put and discus.
"I hadn't been throwing for distance, but I felt like my run-up was pretty good," Sam Crouser said. "I was doing a few things at the finish that weren't good, but I knew that I had something in me that was pretty good. That's how it is in the javelin. If you're off by just a tiny bit, it can really decrease the distance.
"My dad was telling me, â€˜Quicker left to right.' On the last one, I was a little quicker, I hit it a little better and it went a lot farther."
Crouser, 20, was Monday's runner-up to Texas A&M senior Sam Humphreys, the new U.S. champion at 268-7. Neither will represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games this summer, though, because they are shy of the Olympic "A" standard of 269-0 (see column).
It was a shining finish after an ominous start for Crouser, whose first attempt landed wide of the sector and near the adjacent pole vault runway, sending competitors scattering.
"He was trying to get the pole vaulters' attention," kidded Humphreys.
"Next time, we'll see if he can get a runner," added Craig Kinsley, who finished third in the competition at 262-2.
Kinsley, a former NCAA champion who graduated from Brown last year, will represent the U.S. in next month's London Games, along with Sean Furey and Cyrus Hostetler, a member of Oregon Track Club Elite.
Furey, a 2005 Dartmouth grad, was fifth at the trials with a best of 255-5, after winning in the 2010 national meet and placing second a year ago. Hostetler took fifth Monday at 254-8. He finished his UO career in 2010; the former Newberg High standout won two Pac-10 titles and was third in the 2011 U.S. championships. Both made the Olympic squad based on hitting the â€˜A' standard earlier in the season.